Healthier holiday fare doesn't have to mean sacrificing tradition or taste. We've got some delicious ideas to bring balance back to your celebrations.

In theory, the typical holiday feast shouldn't be a dietary disaster. After all, turkey is a lean source of protein, we're offered a variety of vegetables and grains, and a glass of wine even has some health benefits.

Besides the fact that portion control goes out the window (seconds and thirds, anyone?), the extras can do us in. We smother everything in gravy, butter and creamy sauces, load up our plates with refined grains and shake on the salt. Dinner isn't the only culprit -- appetizers, drinks and dessert can have as much fat and as many calories as the meal itself.

No need, however, to sacrifice taste or cut out your favourite fare. Here, some tasty ways to bring more balance to the table.

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Indulging in a few appetizers can heap on 200-300 calories if you're reaching for pastries, meatballs, party mixes or creamy dips and spreads. Instead, try salsa, legume-based spreads (like hummus or black bean dip) or bruschetta instead of cream-based dips and pâté. Use whole grain crackers or vegetables to do the dipping, like hunks of bell pepper or endive leaves. Serve plain shrimp with a tomato-based cocktail sauce instead of meatballs, and use toothpicks to make skewers of fruit to dip in low-fat yoghurt. Cucumber cups, cherry tomatoes and mushroom caps can make a healthy base for layered or stuffed appetizers too.

Recipe ideas:
Southwest Roasted Sweet Potato Dip
Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus
Roasted Zucchini And Yogurt Spread
Thai Cucumber Shrimp Appetizers
Cranberry Salsa

Next: Turkey Lite

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Elizabeth Rogers